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7 min read

Introducing Candor: Brand Journalism for the New Age of Marketing

There’s a movement taking place in the world of marketing, and within our company too. 

It has to do with content marketing and the increasing role content plays in driving demand gen. But that’s not really the exciting part. What’s truly intriguing, at least to me, is the role content plays in the evolving nature of companies’ relationships with their customers and prospects. 

At its heart, it’s a movement about authenticity. About companies choosing to treat their customers and prospects not like transactional entities but like real people with real lives, and to offer them information, analysis, and insight that might help them succeed — whether they buy from their companies or not. 

It’s a movement where things like transparency and integrity yield great results, and marketers understand that building relationships is more important than churning and burning through prospects who simply might not be ready to purchase — yet. 

It’s also a movement in which companies realize that authority and credibility matter at least as much as features and benefits. Because as companies shift from transactional marketing to a focus on LTV and an ongoing relationship with their customers, they’ve learned that people want to do business with companies they trust and that they view as helpful and supportive. 

In the decade-plus since we founded Fluid Group, the role of marketing within tech organizations has gone from that of brand ambassador to one of customer advocate and market educator. Today, marketing is less about shouting your features and benefits from the rooftops and more about empowering your customers and prospects to fulfill their potential. 

It’s less about self-promotion, and more about building trust. Less about getting your story told in TechCrunch and more about telling it yourself directly. 

Less about you, more about your customer. 

Of course, to do all of this — to forge authentic relationships, to build trust and credibility, to establish authority — requires a lot of high-quality content at every stage of the funnel. Your blog can’t just be a repository of product updates and company highlights. Your SEO content can’t simply be written for the search engines. In short, your marketing strategy has to go beyond content for content’s sake and evolve to include brand journalism. 

What is brand journalism? It’s the practice of taking the fundamentals of journalism — accuracy, clarity, accountability, balance, and incisiveness, just to name a few — and applying them to branded content. It’s the idea that brands have an important role to play in educating, informing, and enlightening their readers. It’s the commitment to publishing content that goes beyond your own company to look at the macro trends shaping your entire industry and beyond. Brand journalism helps readers gain new insights, understand complex concepts, and access important information that is relevant to their work. 

When a company commits to doing brand journalism, it becomes empowered to publish stories that help define what it stands for and what values it holds dear. Take, for instance, our client Boulevard, which frequently uses its blog to address important issues related to diversity and inclusion in the self-care industry. Brand journalism helps companies become thought leaders, like our client tvScientific, whose commentary and perspectives on industry trends are often picked up by traditional media outlets. It also helps companies offer insight and analysis on important issues that often get overlooked by traditional media, such as when our client Tapjoy uses survey data to shed light on the modern mobile consumer

Though Fluid started in 2010 as a PR agency, by 2016 we had evolved into a full-funnel inbound marketing agency, using content marketing in a structured and integrated way. We published blog posts, SEO content, research reports, email newsletters, thought leadership articles, and other content designed to drive organic traffic, inbound leads, and sales. 

But along the way, we realized that the value we were delivering was more than just performance metrics. We had assembled a crack team of writers, editors, and content strategists that bring a journalistic style of writing to content marketing. We realized that our own mission was much bigger than just using content marketing to drive inbound leads; that it is also to inform, educate and inspire our clients' readers. 

We're a different company today than we were in 2010, and we felt a name change was in order to represent our new identity. So welcome to Candor. We are a content marketing firm that leverages the power of brand journalism and narrative storytelling not only to generate high-value inbound leads but also to instill trust, establish credibility and forge relationships. 

Because in today’s day and age, brands have a responsibility to their customers and prospects. They have an opportunity to go beyond traditional storytelling, to not just influence journalists but to become journalists themselves. To speak with intellectual vigor and authenticity. To speak with authority and credibility. 

To speak, in a word, with Candor.